Sensitive magnetometry reveals inhomogeneities in charge storage and weak transient internal currents in Li-ion cells

Yinan Hu, Geoffrey Z. Iwata, Mohaddese Mohammadi, Emilia V. Silletta, Arne Wickenbrock, John W. Blanchard, Dmitry Budker, Alexej Jerschow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ever-increasing demand for high-capacity rechargeable batteries highlights the need for sensitive and accurate diagnostic technology for determining the state of a cell, for identifying and localizing defects, and for sensing capacity loss mechanisms. Here, we leverage atomic magnetometry to map the weak induced magnetic fields around Li-ion battery cells in a magnetically shielded environment. The ability to rapidly measure cells nondestructively allows testing even commercial cells in their actual operating conditions, as a function of state of charge. These measurements provide maps of the magnetic susceptibility of the cell, which follow trends characteristic for the battery materials under study upon discharge. In particular, hot spots of charge storage are identified. In addition, the measurements reveal the capability to measure transient internal current effects, at a level of μA, which are shown to be dependent upon the state of charge. These effects highlight noncontact battery characterization opportunities. The diagnostic power of this technique could be used for the assessment of cells in research, quality control, or during operation, and could help uncover details of charge storage and failure processes in cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10667-10672
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 19 2020


  • Battery diagnostics
  • Magnetic susceptibility
  • Magnetometry
  • Optically pumped magnetometer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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